You know that theory about m/m romance not having gender bullshit, that always pisses everyone off? At the risk of pissing everyone off… I kinda see it. Of course, it’s not true that m/m romance doesn’t have gender bullshit… but when you read a lot of m/f romance and get so much repetition of certain scenarios, m/m can really feel like a relief.
I’m on D for the alphabet challenge, and tried to read Dangerous Lover by Lisa Marie Rice. I don’t think the book ever had a chance, to be honest — who wants to read violent romantic suspense when you have to fear sending your child to school? But I was also extremely underwhelmed by the standard Rice relationship dynamic: her the seemingly unattainable feminine ideal, who makes everything smell nice, him the rough, underclass guy who worships her.
You can have the class issues in m/m, certainly, and wealth disparity. One aspect of Strawberries for Dessert that I didn’t go into was Cole offering to support Jonathan so they could travel together — Jonathan’s outrage in turn outrages his friend, a stay-at-home mom. So the gender issues around working and not working were discussed, though a major factor — the basic insecurity of such a situation — was never mentioned. (Too unromantic?) In the end, another solution was found, letting Jonathan keep his pride. (I was kind of impressed when Ava March wrote a story in which one man did agree to be supported by his lover.)
I doubt there are many romance tropes that can’t exists in m/m as well as m/f, with the exception of the secret baby. (The m/m D book I’m currently reading appears to have an abusive lover scenario, with perhaps a rescue element.) You could certainly have an m/m story in which one partner is better at making a home nice and the other is a rough type. But it wouldn’t feel gendered — or rather, it would feel gendered in a different way.
Maybe it just comes down to the fact that I’m a woman, and so while I may care greatly about the characters in the m/m stories I read, what goes on doesn’t feel so much right in my face.